Sunday 17 July 2011

Weekend eats: flapjacks and two soups

"Do you want a banana?" I asked Sylvia in the supermarket.  She said yes.  At home I cut the top the wrong way.  There were tears and pouts.  It wasn't eaten.  It got blacker and blacker until I had to do something.  Bananas are so expensive that it feels like a crime to waste them.  I made some flapjacks.  That was dessert to serve last Sunday when my friend Will came for lunch.  I also had a skanky piece of pumpkin that went into soup and a hard chunk of sourdough bread that went into Ribollita.

I try not to waste food in our house but it isn't always easy.  Some days the rejected dinner hasn't been touched much.  It can be recycled in a stew or a pasta bake.  Not always.  When food has been chewed, spat out, crushed and then thrown on the floor, it is only fit for the bin.  Or I find that Sylvia has given food to Little Dolly which then has sat about so long that it is no longer fit to eat.  On those days I wish for a dog or a chookhouse in the backyard to swallow up our food waste.  Last weekend I was pleased to be able to use up some ageing food in my cooking!

The flapjacks were based on Brydie's Banana Oat Slice with additional inspiration from Shaheen.  I used golden syrup and added some choc chips. I slid the baking tin into the oven and grabbed the car keys.  I asked E to take them out when the timer rang and leave them in the tin.  When I returned from the supermarket, the house smelt wonderful.

I had gone with Brydie's recipe that had more butter because I had thought it might hold them together but it was still a bit crumbly once it cooled.  Never mind a bit of collapsing in the fingers.  It was delicious.  Crispy, buttery, subtly sweet, undertones of banana, and studded with chocolate.
The pumpkin soup was a quick Saturday dinner while I spent more effort on a Ribollita soup (or stew) for Sunday lunch.  I had initially thought  I might make a plain soup of onion, pumpkin and stock.  Then I remembered that Lisa and Jacqueline's No Croutons Required  event had chillies as the theme.  At the supermarket I bought a red chilli, threw in some curry leaves I had in the fridge and a few favourite spices.
It was so watery that I threw some red lentils in at the last moment and simmered the soup for another 10-15 minutes.  The first night we served the soup with yoghurt.  I had the last bit a few days later for lunch with no yoghurt.  Both times I really enjoyed it.  Both pumpkin and lentil make for velvety texture.  Although it is not quite as hot as Lisa would like but I found it quite spicy and I know she would enjoy the mix of flavours.

I was a bit too rushed to stop and photograph the soup nicely.  I had Sylvia to get to bed, bread to bake and Ribollita to make.  When I was searching for ideas to use up half a loaf of good sourdough bread that had gone hard, I had found two recipes for Ribollita in my bookmarks.  Jamie Oliver and Heidi Swanson are well respected in the world of food.  I felt in good hands. 
Both of them used black kale but I was particularly inspired by Jamie's comment that it is a peasant dish.  In Melbourne, kale is a gourmet vegetable.  It was unheard of in my youth.  Far more common is silverbeet, which is known as chard in other parts of the world.  I decided to go with the spirit of the recipe and use silverbeet.

Heidi calls it a stew.  Jamie calls it a "silky thick soup".  Mine looked far more mushy than either Heidi or Jamie's photos but it was so silky that I knew it was right. I loved the way the beans broke down and thickened it.  The chunks of stale bread were softened but kept their shape and soaked up the flavour of the other ingredients.  It is a perfect winter meal but I am sure Ricki in Midsomer Canada would be pleased to accept it for her Wellness Weekends event.

When Will came around I said I had made soup.  He laughed when I served this thick mush.  "You call this soup?"  Well yes I do.  I love thick soup and am quite happy if my spoon will stand up in it.  I served it with parmesan and a slice of olive oil bread.  We had seconds.  E was lukewarm but he still ate it up.  I was happy to eat it again that night and the next day for lunch.  It was excellent.

After soup (or stew), we had a plate of caramel tim tams and flapjack.  I regret to say that the flapjack played second fiddle to the tim tams.  The former are decadent treats that I only bought because Sylvia insisted (well that is my story).  The flapjack is far more everyday and was enjoyed once the prima donna tim tams had disappeared.

It was good to catch up over a leisurely lunch.  Will and E love chewing the fat about obscure music and I am always interested to hear his opinion on politics.  Sylvia ate baked beans for lunch but had to have a taste of a tim tam.  Later she showed that she had been taking notice of what I had been making and offered bowl of soup, pumpkin, biscuit and cake.  She then found a jigsaw puzzle piece that has been missing for months.  Now where did that half eaten apple go to?

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Syrup cake, shoes and chooks
This time two years ago: Andre's: our friendly local café
This time three years ago: Pumpkin, PC Stories and a Roast
This time four years ago: Sesame and Lemon Bread

Adapted from Jamie and Heidi
serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin of diced tomatoes
400g tin of cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
400g tin of borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch of silverbeet, sliced including stalks
250g stale bread in chunks (about half a loaf of sourdough)

Heat oil in a stockpot and fry onion, celery, carrots and garlic for about 10 minutes.  I knew they were ready because they began to smell cooked.  Tip in the tomatoes, stir well and simmer for a few minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes until silky and mushy.  Stir occasionally and add a bit of water when it looks too dry.  I think I added about 1-2 cups of water in all.  Best served after sitting overnight.  Serve hot.

Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil Soup
My original recipe
serves 5-6

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
dash of cinnamon
1 min
4-5 cups stock
1 small potato
650 pumpkin, peeled and trimmed
1 cup red lentils
1 tbsp maple syrup
handful each chickpeas and chopped carrots (optional)
Plain yoghurt or coconut milk (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan and gently fry onion for 5-10 minutes until browned.  Add garlic, chilli and ginger and stir for about 1 minute. Add spices and stir constantly for about another minute.  Add stock, potato, pumpkin, red lentils and maple syrup.  If you have a child refusing to eat dinner this is the time to put in leftovers such a chickpeas and carrots.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes until pumpkin is soft and lentils are cooked.  Blend until smooth.  Serve hot.  If desired add some yoghurt or coconut milk.

Banana Choc Chip Flapjacks

Adapted from CityHippyFarmGirl

100g melted butter
2 mashed up bananas
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar (maybe less)
2 cups whole oats
1/2 cup choc chips

Mix all the ingredients up in the order that they are listed. Press mixture into a greased and lined pan (I used a square 23cmx 23cm) and bake at 180C for approximately 45 minutes.  Cool in the tin and then cut into squares.

On the Stereo:
Spiritual - Magma


  1. OMG, that black banana! :O I've heard from another Australian blogging friend that bananas were terribly expensive over there, while here they're often one of the cheapest kinds of fruit you can get. I'd send you some, but I'm afraid they'd look as the one above when they arrive because snail mail from Germany to Australia totally honors that name. ;) (Btw, the little package of dried wild garlic I send a week ago will be on its way for some more time, I guess.)

    The soups look wonderful! I also hate to waste food, so everything that needs to be finished off usually goes into a stew.

  2. Years ago I did the cooking for a few summers at a yoga retreat centre in Crete, Greece. We had a soup every night to start the dinner and Ribollita was always the favourite. It's truly a winner I think, funny for how rustic and simple it is. I agree too, I think you're always in fairly safe hands with Jamie. Nothing of his has ever turned out bad for me. It's also my claim to fame, that we went to the same school together!

  3. Your soups look delicious - the chilli lentil one looks deliciously thick and I'm sure that the peasant roots of the Ribollita are very accomodating to silverbeet/chard.

    It always surprises me to read how expensive bananas are in Australia - I understand it's due to cyclones in the banana producing regions but bananas are one of the cheaper fruits here. Still, it's a shame to waste anything if you can help it and those banana flapjacks look delicious!

  4. I love it all especially that stew. Sounds so good. I usually pick up some cheap chard from our Chinese supermarket, when I am buying tofu. So much cheaper than elsewhere.

  5. I'd take your flapjacks over the tim tams any day :)

    I'm impressed with your efforts at using leftovers too; I also dislike wasting food, but sometimes don't get to the last of the vegetables in time, or mis-calculate amounts for dinner and end up with surplus that may or may not be used.

  6. One day, Sylvia will read back over this and realise she had a tantrum and rejected something that is tantamount to gold right now! Oh, how I long for bananas to make smoothies and banana bread with!

    Love the soup, too. I've been meaning to make a tomato bread soup for months!

  7. I know what you mean about bananas. They feel like such a decadent treat nowadays! If only she could understand what a treat they are! :P

  8. I would say that all of your weekend eats sound stellar! I've never had ribolitta but it's on my "to-make" list now! Sounds like just the thing I'd love. Thanks so much for submitting this to Wellness Weekend this week!

  9. Yum to flapjacks! Woot :) Also, the combination of bananas and chocolate is so classic!

  10. That pumpkin soup sounds delicious! I have never been fond of standard pumpkin soup but if they are spiced up then it's a different story. I feel the same way about using up leftovers, some almost unusable pumpkin got thrown into my soup on the weekend too.

  11. I put elderly bananas in the freezer and wait until I have enough to make a cake or muffins. They thaw out very mushy and are instantly ready for baking!

  12. Mmm I really want to try all of these recipes, but especially the pumpkin lentil stew! We always seem to have bananas that are about to go bad, so I should try those flapjacks also!

  13. Thanks Kath - I think everyone is shocked by the price of bananas because they are usually so cheap here too - wouldn't like to think how they would travel in the post but hope the wild garlic travels ok

    Thanks Adam - bet you never thought you would be watching Jamie on the telly when you were at school with him - love the sound of making soups for the retreat - though ribollita is a meal in itself so I hope there were only small helpings if you had more courses to come after it :-)

    Thanks C - I love peasant recipes that are all about using up food - yes it is the second cyclone to raise the price of bananas in the past decade - makes us wary of taking them for granted

    Thanks Jacqueline - never thought of buying chard at a chinese supermarket - not many of them in my neck of the woods but will look out when I am next in one

    Thanks Kari - I was thinking about waste making the peasant dish and how lucky we are that we can waste food occasionally

    Thanks Hannah - occasionally I really need a banana in my smoothie and that is most of the reason I buy them - occasionally buy them for sylvia but she is so fickle that I usually see if she eats part of my smoothie banana - wonder if she wont grow up taking them for granted like I did

    Thanks Lorraine - if only children could understand the value of their food - they just think it is the magic pudding!

    Thanks Ricki - I think you might love the ribollita too - am sure it would work fine with gf bread

    Thanks Sharan - chocolate always takes bananas to another level

    Thanks Mel - I love any sort of pumpkin soup - used to eat a lot of it plain but so do less these days - the pumpkin at the moment seems to have a really good flavour even when it looks on the way out

    thanks Healthy Apple

    Thanks Amanda - I think I have put bananas in the freezer and then I forget about them so I try not to do this - but if you can plan around them I think it is a great idea

    Thanks Joanne - the pumpkin lentil soup was much better than I feared when I was making it - highly recommend it - and the banana flapjacks was an easy way to use up banana

  14. I'm so loving anything vaguely soup at the moment. Especially anything pumpkin-y.
    Interesting to see how your slice turned out differently. Love the addition of the choc chips though...mmm, which I had some now.

  15. OK, I am back again. What the heck are those green things on the end of your bananas. It has been bugging me.

    1. sorry I didn't reply earlier - I don't know why they put green wax on the ends of the bananas - I have a feeling that these were all I could find but the ones I usually buy don't always have these waxy tips

  16. I love thick soups/stews too. I'm curious how expensive bananas are for you because here I think they're not too expensive.

    1. Hi Ashley - bananas were terribly expensive due to the cyclone in Queensland but now the the growers have got past the crop damage they are a reasonable price yet again. (they were over 10 times the usual price at the height of the price hike)


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